Coming Home

Newly-hired technical director Chris Henderson is back home–at last

Newly-hired technical director Chris Henderson is back home – at last. The Everett native shares his thoughts about realizing his wish of not only returning to the Seattle area but getting involved with its new MLS franchise.

I guess you can say that coming home to Seattle has always been on my mind.

The time I played for the U.S. against Russia in the Kingdome was a great homecoming. After the ’94 World Cup and before I went to Germany, I considered playing on loan to the Sounders, and whenever the Colorado Rapids came up here, it was a great visit. I felt so comfortable.

It’s certainly been on my mind for the last 15 years, and it’s been a goal of my family to live here. For the longest time I wanted an MLS team here so I could come back and play. I would talk to Mr. Anschutz and say, ‘You’ve got to put a team up in Seattle. You’ve got to call Adrian.’ Over the years, I was always hoping.

But as a player, you love the game and with trades and things, you just have to go where the game takes you. As it turned out, I didn’t get to play here. But I must say that this opportunity is incredible, to be with the franchise from the beginning and to see where it will go.

This is so exciting for not only my immediate family, but also my brothers, Sean and Pat, and their families, and my parents. There had been times in the past where they were hoping we could all live close to each other and it didn’t happen. In the soccer business, as a player you move around so much, you learn to not get your hopes up until you’re actually signed a contract and you’re somewhere.

Really, everything happened very quickly. I was doing some consulting for the team down in Florida and on the 22nd of January I got the word. I arrived in Seattle in the afternoon and was working the next morning, getting organized. There’s a lot do to, so I was excited to get started.

My wife, Dee, and Aidan and Annelise, they can’t wait to get up here and be near their cousins and grandma and grandpa. They’re really looking forward to it. There’s always that uncertainty with going to a new school and a change of the city, but they don’t have any of that because they’re all familiar with Seattle. We’ve always come back here, so they know they’ll have friends instantly and it will be an easy transition.

My brother Pat has three boys and my kids fit in between the oldest and the middle and youngest and the middle. Sean has one who’s a few years younger and then one on the way. There’s going to be seven cousins all growing up together here.

I went back to Kansas City last weekend, and did some work there to get the house ready to put on the market. The kids will go to school there until May, unless our house sells really quickly. But I think it’s going to take some time. We’ve sold 4-5 houses in the past in 4-5 years, so we’re used to how it all works, getting a house ready to sell and move somewhere else.

I’ve been looking at schools for the kids, and I’ve been looking at houses where it will also be close to my work.

Just after I came to town I had an interesting experience. I saw a house that I liked and called the realtor’s number. She answers and we got to talking. She said, “You’re here for the Seattle MLS team? Who’s interviewing you?” I wondered why this realtor is asking all these questions. It turns out, I was talking to Tara Leiweke, Tod’s (Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke) wife. She then goes on to tell me that she’s from a place just five miles from our house in Kansas City. It’s such a small world and it was such a huge coincidence.

Except for a 2-3 month stretch back between playing in Germany and Norway, I haven’t been able to spend more than 3-4 days back home. Now, I want to get to know the city again.

I’m looking forward to seeing the city as an adult. Growing up as teenager, you don’t see it in the same way. There are so many things to see and restaurants to try. The city’s really changed since I left. It’s grown and there are so many things to do. Outdoor things like the mountains or the water. Then there’s the Seattle sports scene. I‘ve been to a few Sonics games, but I’ve seen only one Seahawks game in 12 years, and I’ve yet to see a Mariners game in the new stadium. Along with the soccer games, I’m looking forward to taking my family to ballgames.

Already, I’ve been able to see a lot of people, friends and ex-teammates. I’m staying with Sean, and he coaches in the Crossfire club, along with some old teammates from the Storm. I saw Bernie James, Peter Hattrup, Chance Fry. Some other teammates are coaching in other clubs, and I have gotten to see them too. Guys like John Hamel and Darren Sawatzky. I played against Darrren in high school and few games in the MLS.

Socially, I’m getting to reconnect with a lot of these guys either on the soccer field or through work. My good friend and college roommate, Joe-Max Moore, is coming up for business. He’s a distributor for MonaVIE–an antioxidant drink. We’ll spend some time together in the afternoon and evening. It’s always good to catch up with him. We played on the national team and UCLA together. Joe’s a good friend.

That’s the good thing about this game. You make so many friends along the way.